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Carnival hits century mark

First, let me simply note how much of an honor and a privilege it will be to help keep my many BankTravel friends informed of the latest developments in the cruise industry.

New Ships
Parent Carnival Corporation has recently added its 100th ship, the Carnival Magic, to its mass-market Carnival Cruise Lines fleet.  The 130,000-ton vessel debuted on May 1 with a nine-day cruise from Venice to Barcelona.  After a summer in the Mediterranean, the ship will reposition this fall to Galveston, Texas.

Seabourn Cruises took delivery of its new 450-guest Seabourn Quest on May 31 in Genoa, Italy. This all-suite ship caps a three-year expansion that has increased the luxury line’s capacity by more than 200 percent.

European river and waterway cruises are apparently booming, as many new vessels are either coming on-line or being planned. Viking River Cruises’ second, state-of-the-art “green” ship, Viking Prestige, will be in christened in Amsterdam on June 30.

Vantage Deluxe World Travel will be dramatically modernizing its fleet of European river cruise vessels over the next three years. Discovery II will set sail in March 2012, River Explorer II and River Navigator II in March, 2013, and River Odyssey II in 2014.

Avalon Waterways christened the Avalon Panorama, river cruising’s first “suite ship” offering two full decks of suites, on May 14 in Mainz, Germany.  During 2012, the company will introduce two sister “suite ships,” the Avalon Vista and Avalon Visionary.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ new Douro Spirit was christened in Porto, Portugal, on April 30.  The vessel will offer cruises through the beautiful Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage region hailed by National Geographic Traveler as one of the “World’s Great Places.”

New Itineraries and Amenities
Due to political unrest in the area, NCL has cancelled its series of Eastern Mediterranean and Holy Land cruises next winter and spring aboard the Norwegian Jade. Instead, 15 nine-day Spain and Canary Islands sailings have been substituted from Barcelona.

MSC Cruises has added multi-sensory “4-D” movie experiences aboard its Splendida and Fantasia, which are reportedly intensified by simulated wind and movements of the seats.

Princess Cruises is adding trendy Zumba, the intense dance-fitness classes that blend international music with choreography, to its shipboard activity programs fleetwide.  The line also recently hosted a group of 25 new graduates from Guide Dogs for the Blind and their owners aboard the Sea Princess in San Francisco, to familiarize them with how visually impaired travelers and their canine companions can be accommodated.

Holland America Line’s 1,258-guest Maasdam recently completed extensive, multimillion-dollar “Signature of Excellence” upgrades, part of the line’s $566 million fleetwide refurbishments.  Also, its Rotterdam will be deployed year-round from its namesake city in the Netherlands beginning in the fall of 2012.  Initial itineraries through spring, 2013, will include several 14- to 18-day regional sailings, plus two extended voyages.

Avalon Waterways has announced new river cruise itineraries featuring Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Mekong River, as well as Egypt’s Nile River and Lake Nasser.

Thoughts from Bob 

I wonder how long television programmers plan to run old footage of the lamentable 1991 sinking of the MTS Oceanos.  This small ship, launched in 1952, was operated by a now-long-out-of business Greek concern, Epirotiki Lines. Although barely marketed in the U.S., Epirotiki specialized in rescuing aging “rust buckets,” repainting them, and offering cheap cruises to less-than-discriminating Europeans.  I’m disgusted with these apparently ongoing, sorry attempts to disparage the reputation of a responsible industry that has earned an enviable safety record.